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January 13, 2013

More vets are needed in panhandle

TULSA — One client couldn’t find a new veterinarian after she moved to the Oklahoma Panhandle, so she still drives back to Sapulpa to see Dr. Corinna Tressler.

Meanwhile, on her desk at the Green Country Veterinary Hospital, Tressler has a resume from a recent graduate who’s working at a convenience store.

That’s the irony of her profession right now - whole counties are going without service, while young veterinarians can’t find work.

“It’s simple economics,” Tressler explained. “Vet school is just as expensive as medical school, but we can’t charge $10,000 to spay a dog.”

Nationally, the average veterinary school graduate owes about $135,000 in student loans, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

At Oklahoma State University, fourth-year veterinary student John von Kieckebusch will graduate this spring with $180,000 in debt.

“It dictates what kind of job you can even think about taking,” von Kieckebusch told the Tulsa World.

“In Oklahoma, my friends couldn’t even make the student loan payments.”

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